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'Rare' Aussie coin worth $8k debunked: 'That's garbage'

A coin valuer has revealed the big dollar highs and the rip-off lows, plus set the record straight on the value of some sold online for a small fortune.

An Aussie teacher who managed to find an extremely rare and valuable 5c coin inside the very first bag of shrap she got from the bank was a remarkable and extremely unlikely feat.

More and more Australians struggling with the cost of living are searching through their spare change for that diamond in the rough that could land them a pretty pay day, with viral videos spruiking the coins in circulation you could make cash off.

But there’s also a “darker side” to coin collecting and those without the fundamental knowledge of what’s valuable and what’s not should be careful if looking to cash in by snapping up thousand-dollar coins online.

Yahoo Finance chatted with a coin valuer about the big dollar highs and the rip-off lows, plus got him to set the record straight on some of the coins being sold online for a small fortune. Here's what you need to know.

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Have you made money off a rare coin? Contact belinda.grantgeary@yahooinc.com

Coin collector Matt Thompson with a one dollar coin valued at $7,500 and a false stamp over it.
Coin valuer Matt Thompson has broken down how much the coins being sold online or found in your pocket change are really worth. (Credit: Yahoo Finance Australia)

'Fraught with danger' but 'some bargains out there'

Coin collector Matt Thompson, of Thompson Coins, couldn’t believe it when that teacher walked up to his bench and told him about the double-headed 5c coin find she’d had.

“I told her, ‘that’s a $4,000 coin. You can take a long school holidays',” he told Yahoo Finance.

“There are people out there who spend almost every weekend searching and never find anything. But that’s the nature of it. Coin collecting is kind of like the lottery.”

A quick look on eBay and there’s plenty of coins valued in the thousands of dollars - some for up to $20,000.

“You see instances of people selling coins that are not genuine or as described,” he said.

“I’ve dealt with fallout from a gentleman who bought a 1930 penny for $8,000, which is comparatively quite cheap, but as soon as I looked at it I knew it wasn’t real.

“He said, ‘I got it on Gumtree, I thought it was legit’.”

“It can be fraught with danger but there can be some bargains there. I can’t say they are all bad.”

A double headed 5c coin
This is the extremely rare double-headed 5c coin an Aussie teacher found on her first bag of coins. (Credit: TikTok)

How do I know if a coin I find in my spare change or online is worth something?

“The thing I look for is rarity, or how readily available are they, and the next big thing is the condition of the coin.”

This means an incredibly rare coin in bad condition or a more accessible coin in great condition could potentially have value.

Interestingly, coins with minting errors are far more valuable in Australia than anywhere else in the world and for a very Aussie reason - we love that a “highly respected organisation made a mistake”.

“The Royal Australian Mint has some of the highest quality coins in the world and stringent procedures to stop these from happening,” the Melbourne collector said.

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“So on the odd occasion it does, there’s a lot of excitement in the industry. But it can be difficult to research as the mint don’t really promote their mistakes.”

This is where you see a 2020 Firefighter $2 coin that mistakenly put a ball of flames on the Queen’s face sell for $6000, or the double headed 5c coin mentioned before selling for up to $5,000.

Big money dreams vs reality of value: How much are 'rare' coins worth?

Thompson - who has been in the coin collecting industry for over 10 years - described a big issue with coins being sold online as “peacocking” whereby sellers put an exorbitant price on the coin in order to drive interest, attracting less discerning buyers who may jump at the opportunity thinking they’ve found a winner.

Here's his take on a couple big ticket items being flogged online to show you the reality of the market.

1991 50c Mint error coin struck on 10 cent planchet - $20,000

A 50c design struck on a 10c coin
This 50c design was struck on a 10c coin so the error is quite rare. (Credit: Yahoo Finance Australia) (picture alliance via Getty Image)

VALUATION: They are really rare but a part of the problem is peacocking. Realistically this is worth about a quarter of that. That price is just madness.

2014 Mint error coin 5c on $2 Planchet - $14,000

A 5c design  on a $2 coin.
Again here we can see a rare error, where a 5c design has ended up on a $2 coin. (Credit: Yahoo Finance Australia) (Belinda Grant-Geary)

VALUATION: Again, it’s a genuine error so a really rare coin but pricing wise it would be worth half of that. If I was buying or selling it would be a fraction of that, maybe they are just a really optimistic seller.

1996 $1 Henry Parkes coin with reeded error -$4,870.00

A damaged $1 coin.
This $1 coin is seriously damaged and Thompson said it's barely worth its original value. (Credit: Yahoo Finance Australia) (Belinda Grant-Geary)

VALUATION: That’s garbage. This trash is worth $1. The coin is in bad condition to begin with and it’s not a genuine error. It can be a fine line if a person is just clueless, they’ve watched a few TikToks and think it’s worth $5k or more, but more likely not.

$1 Charles Kingsford Smith with wing CUD - $6,700

A damaged $1 coin with red circles showing where 'errors' are worth value.
The 'rare' features on this damaged $1 coin, are not in fact that valuable. (Credit: Yahoo Finance Australia). (picture alliance via Getty Image)

VALUATION: If I was behind the counter and someone brought this coin in saying I bought this for $5,000 what will you give me. I would say, 'it’s a dollar. It’s worth a dollar'. It’s in such poor condition that if you put it in a vending machine it might not work.

Warning and tips

Thompson said collectors have a keen eye and can already clock intricate details, even when getting change handed back at the supermarket. But it takes studying those little details to know where the value truly is and he wanted people not to buy too much into “10 second sound bites” on TikTok designed to “create hype”.

If you think you’ve got a valuable coin, get it authenticated by a reputable business. Then go get two more, Thompson said.

If you’re buying, set a budget a stick to it.

“In this type of industry you can get dazzled through hype and excitement. If it’s outside your budget, you just need to stick to it. And I know how hard that is, I’ve done it myself,” Thompson said.

“Adding financial stress to your life isn’t something coins should be doing and there’s certainly a lot of money to be made, you just need to do it one step at a time.”

The experienced valuer said it’s not likely you will “hit the jackpot” on your first go. Well, unless you’re that one teacher.

Coin terms to know

What is a die: A die is what’s used to imprint a design on the coin. For example an effigy of King Charles was cast on a die.

What is a planchet: A planchet is the raw coin with no design struck on to it. Minting errors can happen when the wrong planchets end up in the wrong section.

What is a CUD: A small bit of extra metal on the coin when there’s a fault on the die. Over time little flaws will form on dies as they strike the coin and smash in the design and occasionally it will make a blob of metal.

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